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Book Discussion on War What is it Good For

Ian Morris discusses his book ``War! What is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization From Primates to Robots.''

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  CSPAN    Book Discussion on War What is it Good For    Ian Morris discusses his book ``War! What is It Good For?:  
   Conflict and the Progress of Civilization From Primates to...  

    May 3, 2014
    7:45 - 8:46pm EDT  

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[applause] those are very kind words and take you for coming all on such a beautiful evening when there was so much else going on and buy books at the independent bookstores. how could you not want to buy a book? i am here this evening to talk about a new book war what is it good for? i am sure everybody will
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recognize the classic motown pop song. you don't have to worry. you already know the song but if you called me 30 years ago i may well have that before i decided to become an academic i try to be a rock star. i had a lot of fun. that is not where my strength glaves. i realized i could do better as an archaeologist and a late -- lead guitarist. being a historian is a better way to answer the question and tonight i want to disagree.
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war what is it good for but it is the story over the last 10,000 years? to create larger society's for the ones that people live in? this is an important thing to say because of that is the case that understanding what war has been good for seems it is crucial to understanding what it might do with the 21st century if we want them to be safe we need to know what it has been good for in the past. the weapons are more destructive but yet the world is a safer place to live hidden. with a remarkable paradox
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that needs to be explained. the answers to the question is paradoxical and uncomfortable. first of all, i will tell you about the four arguments i made then i will talk about why i think the world works in this way. and finally talk about the consequences. the claims that i made the basis of the whole thing's the idea that by fighting the wars people created bigger society's ladder more organized to reduce -- reduce the risk.g÷bo4b > looked at 15,000 years to the end of the last ice age if you could just teleport back you would find a world
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war everybody lived in very small groups very few structures which meant when people fallout violence is available as an option justin prehistoric times there were far fewer constraints on people using violence the result is it seems that more come to the conclusion that the stone age societies running as high as 10 or 20 percent that is a terrified number fell one at a five tie five jimmy fast power to the 20th century the two world wars nuclear weapons somewhere between
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100 million and 200 million people it is an astronomical number but ted billion people lived through it is a 1 or 2% rate of violence so we are 10 times as the entire planet not just massachusetts 10 times less likely to die if we lived in the stone age to. that is a surprising statistics but the explanation is more surprising and this seems to be starting 10 or 15,000 years ago the population rises the world gets more crowded and when to tribes go to war l.f. one starts to lose it doesn't run away.
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you could hunt and gather somewhere else increasingly you cannot do that where the winters of the war swallow up the losers and the metaphor the process was not horribly violent murder, rape, a disposition disposition, terrible things but the process of a bigger and bigger society. they find field the way to hold them together is to develop more and more complex sophisticated items to hold it together but the pressure starts to build to pacify the society's this happens not because they only care for the well-being of their subjects but they are good at killing. the pressure grows what i
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really want in the world is for you to get up every morning and pay taxes to be if you have a dispute with your neighbor disputes -- submitted to resolution and do not want you to kill your neighbor to burn down their house because that impacts me. i don't get to have the 50,000 virgins in my harem it is a bad thing to have violent people under them so basically the more successful you are as a rather the more success we will be overall there are a lot of exceptions but in the book i call it what about hitler problem? there are a lot of guys like
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that but with the&'q constant run of the genocidal maniacs it is to more and more pacification unintended consequence but the violence is a 90% fall across the 10,000 years period. thisñr seems to be the big story so there is the foundational claim that in addition to making people safer they also made them more prosperous with the bloody events but over this century they ended up to be better off we see this again and again those who
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described the battle took place far north of scotland a famous battle scene he gives a big stirring speech in talking about the romans he said they called stealing and killing and rape in the name of government to create a wasteland and call it a piece. the romans win and annihilates burned everything in sight the next morning the sun and comes up and not to sound to be heard for miles around because everyone is dead paillettes the roman army marches back the further it goes into roman territory the weird
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paradox the land becomes but then it turns into a wonderland. the lesson to learn these descriptions both supply conquerors are always violent then they come back when century later you find peace and prosperity. more trade, a complex divisions of labor, conquerors got the best of the deal but everybody ends up the better off. it is remarkable. to create the big societies war seems to have that more prosperous so that is my second claim. third that war is clearly the worst possible way to make a larger safer richer societies but it seems to be
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the only way humans are found. it is depressing but if you look through the evidence they hardly give up the freedom unless somebody forces them to do so. there must be exceptions to this generalization and i found it very difficult to locate convincing ones like european union or the dynastic marriage all of them have violence behind the story. to be clear i am not saying democracy and commerce is not irrelevant and clearly they're all very important
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but all of them have been secondary to depend on the process to create a larger society there is a lot to attributed to the vietnam war although nobody can trace it back but they ask about de-ba'athification process that is to say grab them by the bulls the hearts and minds will follow that the conquest comes first then the cultural formation of pacification. in the one song there has got to be a better way but the third claim may make in my book all of these that people have been saying similar things for a long time i am sure it occurred
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to you a number of similar arguments that the life of the man that until you have the leviathan on what he meant was the government as scary as the monster described in the bible in the book of job. there we slighted on earth there is nothing like him. he is king of all the children this is what he says. when you have a government like this people stop fighting each other in become peaceful. my book is the latest round of a 400 year old war fed great enemy recent and cast
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their way. now i think we actually have the evidence to demonstrate how the process works. if it is true thing we have to draw the conclusion that war is good for something so good i suggest we fourth claim it now puts itself out of business we have weapons so destructive that many power wars just become unthinkable as the world is beginning to change. the book tells a story of how this is unfolding. many twists and turns but the way it boils down the first is a very early history phase where we have
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the rise of the dynasty in china i think the argument they make is the rate of violent death comes down by three-quarters so a major fall. then in the old world we see the right rates strike up again perhaps doubling talking the age from attila the hun to date is. this is a much more violent age. . .
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by 1914 europeans are columnists in the u.s. 84% of the rest of the world. just astonishing. that is one way in which i think the medieval period is important
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and understanding the big story. the second way is as many of you will know you are not the first person to point out that there was this great decline. steven pinker was one of the many people who has drawn attention to this. there is great disagreement over what causes it. that there's no agreement at all and i think this agreement or this lack of agreement has come about closely because of people studying the seven social scientists who concentrate on fairly recent times and in some cases they look back and compare that with the last few hundred years. i think in doing that they miss a really big part of the story which makes it difficult to isolate cause and effect. so where i would like to think my trip -- book took a different route is where my book tells a 10,000 year story of the good thing
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about that is now instead of having this decline in the rates of violent death we now have three things to compare and contrast. the ancient decline in violent death, the medieval spike in the modern decline. when you compare the three cases only then you see the one thing running through all three is this issue about war driving the rise and fall of the biggest states which leads me to think in fact you don't need as many variables as some of these other scholars have suggested. war tells the whole story alone. okay now i've been happily going on to talk about history am i because that's what i'm paid to do. i think the obvious question to ask if you read in the stories is wife. this is obviously an unpleasant claim to make, a paradoxical claim to make the war has made the earth a safer place. why unearth with the world worked that way if i'm right about a? i thing to understand this you have got to go beyond the long-term history.
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you've got to set a 15,000 year story into a much bigger story a story that goes back about 4 billion years, a story that biological evolution of violence especially looking at violence is in the nearest kingdom of the animal world. as a summer where we have seen spectacular advances in the last 50 years. as recently as 1960 there was no research station anywhere in the world to study the other great apes in their natural settings and then jane goodall set on the first one in 1960. what most biologists would now say is that we know that almost every species of animal in the world uses violence in some way to settle their disputes. whether we are talking about lions or lambs they have some violence in their lives. violence seems to be an evolved adaptation through evolution. different species of animals have evolved to use violence to settle disputes in different sorts of ways in each species
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have its own equilibrium some sort of sweet spot for the amount and kind of violence the animal uses. again obviously lions sweet spot is way higher on the scale. within each species because every animals different there are some particularly aggressive lines out there who attack everything they see. the thing is if you are too aggressive than you are less likely to pastor genes on to the next generation, the average line is because you are more likely to injure or kill your young. if you are not aggressive enough again you are less likely to pastor genes on because you get pushed aside from prayer of mates or whatever so each species tend to evolve since -- through this average level use of violence. we are animals too. we have a ball towards an average use of violence which is the sort of rates we saw in the stone age the 10 to 20%. so we are just like every other kind of animal except for the fact that we are completely unlike any other kind of animal.
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the reason i say that is that our biological evolution has led to really the miracle of nature which each of you obligingly have brought to you tonight at the top end of your body. the human brain, there's nothing else like it in the world and as far as we know nothing like it in the universe. this incredible ability to communicate and store information nothing like it that because we have these 2.7 pounds of magic in our heads and no other animals do we alone in the whole animal kingdom, we are capable of cultural evolution as well as biological bible. other species above is the environment changes. they use violence more or less. we do that too but we also change or institutions in our cultures as the payoffs change at using violence. that is why our rate of violent death has fallen by 19% even though we are the same animal pretty much through our tempers and years. we have responded to a new environment that we have created
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by creating these larger societies with stronger governments that raise the cost of using violence and make violence less attractive for humans to use. i think there are two conclusions to draw from this. one the depressing one that we can't wish for didn't exist. if we could we would have done it already. that's a bit depressing fact that the other side of it i think is we are incredibly good at responding to changes in our environment. so i think we use violence less and less. i would say that the lesson of history is that leviathan and strong government is the only thing that has spared us strength to be less violence. okay, to conclude. this is a correct understanding of the shape of history are there lessons to learn? can we learn useful things for her own world from what has
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happened in the past? i think we can and to draw your attention to a couple of the arguments i make toward the end of my book i want to pick up the historical story and roughly where i left it off with the europeans going out there and conquering 84% of the world. by the 18th century they are already way along this path to conquering the world. europeans have built up vast continental empires, so vast in fact that in 1776 this book the wealth of nations adam smith points out that the world has changed and the source of the wealth of nations he says is no longer the old source where you conquer somebody and plunder them and you tax them heavily and you have monopolies on their trade. he says that's not good enough anymore. now he says the empires are so big and they trade routes floating between them are so rich and so enormous that the real -- is to leave people free two-parter as they see fit and
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the government will just tax the flows of trade and let the market get as big as possible and tax the markets. that's how you generate wealth for your nations. i think people nowadays tend to focus on just 1/2 of what he was saying. famously what he said the markets will look best when governments get out of the markets and leave people free two-parter but he also said clearly on this markets will only work at all if governments get into the markets because somebody has got to create the even playing field to stop the police from using violence to disrupt the trucking and bartering. what's missed some 18th century is what we need in the world is not just leviathan policing their own states but a super leviathan which will oversee international trade as the whole system works to keep the sea lanes open. after 1815 this is exactly what the world gets. witness the only industrialized
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power on earth and by the middle of the century date -- like a colossus. the british realize increasingly as the 19th century goes on the conquering more of the world is not a great way to generate wealth. they can make most of their wealth by selling goods and services overseas. policing these open markets and sea lanes and drawing revenue from them. britain gets richer and richer's 19th century goes on so economically this idea of being the super leviathan policing international trade economically fantastic idea and works well for the british. it works well for much of the rest of the world as well. strategically though it's kind of a disaster because in order to be able to sell the goods and services around the world britney's people who can afford to buy them. or it needs to help other nations become rich, help other nations have their own industrial revolution and it will get richer itself by
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selling to these countries. by the 1870the united states and germany in particular have been so successful that they are now becoming rivals. so it's basically the more successful britain is in doing its job as global cop the more it creates rivals which will prevent it from doing its job as global cop. in the 1870starts to become clear this is happening and no one is directly challenging british authority over this global system but the 40 years after that in the 1910s people are looking at britain's position saying it's not clear to us anymore that britain really has the strength to keep running this global system. may be resorting to violence is no longer the worst possible option for us and of course particulaparticula rly an influential faction the government in germany increasingly a saying we have terrible strategic problems crafted in russian camps or perhaps all the violence will be the solution to these problems.
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with consequences of course that we all know well. it seems to me since at least 1989 the u.s. has been running the system which while it's different in a lot of ways from the british empire in certain important ways it's very similar. america wealth depends heavily on global trade. trade routes extracting revenue from the trade itself. in order to become so rich the u.s. has had to encourage other countries to become richer like the marshall plan in europe after the war which was spectacularly successful. in recent years of course america has had a huge part to play in the enrichment of china. since about 2000 or more people are starting to say the u.s. has helped create a potential rival in england and china. in the 2000's nobody accepts people like saddam hussein who is foolish enough to challenge american power just as no one challenged britain in 1870. if present trends continue it seems to me quite possible that
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40 years on we will be in a situation like the 1910s for the u.s. might not be able to deter everyone from using violence. some countries may be able to use violence in which case i think we will be moving into the worst of all possible modes the world develops as world war i but equipped much worse than we had during the cold war which makes me think the next 40 years promise to be the most dangerous in history. just an alarming conclusion to reach i think. the lessons are, i think the lessons we can draw from history are that peace and prosperity depend on having leviathan's to oversee and enforce the system which i think leads to an obvious conclusion. if this is a correct view of history and if you want a safer and richer world than the 21st century the way to get that is to try to preserve american global hegemony.
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my book initially came out in the german translation and you can imagine how well this went in germany. the alternative to that to preserving the current system is a breakdown of the kind we so roughly 100 years ago meaning of rerun of the lead-up to world war i but this time with nuclear weapons. it seems what abraham lincoln said a century and a half ago is united states is the last best hope of the earth and this is very chernow days but of course in a very different way. so to wrap up then, of let's say for the sake of argument this is what happens. the american system keeps going to the middle of the 21st century and even beyond that. can they go on forever? is there any way to put off from that we are breakdown of the global system and the resulting conflicts that always seem to come out? it seems to me the answer has to be no and nothing ever has gone on forever before.
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i talked about my book in britain a few weeks ago. it came out slightly earlier there. i ask the audience is always imagine world war i had not broken out in 1941. do any of you think britain would be running the world in 2014 and i couldn't get a single person to suggest that it would. so does this mean that we are in fact all doomed that the system is bound to break down eventually? i have some thoughts on that too but i have talked enough so if you not to -- want to know about that you'll have to read my book so thank you very much for listening. [applause] thank you.
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>> i was thinking about putin's behavior recently. isn't it also another if you like, occurrence of the kind you are talking about? >> yes, the questions about the way vladimir putin has been behaving recently and
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i don't think they would have started bombing moscow but there would have been a very strong pain he would incur by using force to solve his problems would be more than he wanted to bear. in 2014 he calculated probably right that the pain you would have to endure is no longer -- that there will be pain in their rv is pain but the pain -- he thinks it's a pain that will russia will be able to stand he thinks crimea is a place that russia cannot afford to have moving into western orbits and it would be a disaster for
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russia. he takes the pain is now at a level that he can stand it so this i think is very much the kind of thing i had in mind when i was talking about the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century more and more government starts saying we will take the risk on using force. maybe that is not the worst option still open to us. we have a gentleman in the first row. >> one disinterested in your premise sounds great and i think it in terms of the roman empire and it seems like a great example for the pacification that you don't destroy the income flow. but in my own mind i think of war now and in the future and the recent past as a small terrorist attacks and sew them massive armies and what happens
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i can understand clearly. can you apply your thoughts to the smaller terrorists? >> yeah. this is something i thought about quite a lot as i was writing the book, the kinds force of the u.s. in particular has been involved in the last few years. asymmetrical wars dealing with nonstate opponents, and it has become prominent in the last few years and it struck as i was writing my book how similar this was to a lot of things going on in the mid-and late 19th century during the heyday of the british which in many ways we can see is the predecessor of the current u.s. dominated system. i think what happened there was the british were very successful at raising the cost for other governments for doing anything that would disrupt the international flow of trade that they depended on on silly if you are and other government and you decide violence is the way to
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solve problems the first thing you need to do is make sure this is going to be okay. during the civil war abraham lincoln's greatest nightmare is that the bridge will recognize the confederacy and get involved in what's going on and everything will become this huge problem. when the germans or were depressions go to war the they first of all want to be sure that they get involved in the british initially think it's great. it didn't have quite this much in minds of the british race the cost to high levels. the numbers of wars declined sharply that while the british then get involved there's a series of small-scale wars often in the same parts of the world that the u.s. has now been fighting basically insisted on on -- sudan. strikingly similar set of
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developments. in both cases it's because when you got a functioning global that drives down down state wars that is only the small-scale actors who see positive payoffs for violence. osama bin laden's saying we can probably get away with using force to get what we want and there's a good chance we think the great power either won't come smash us or they won't have the staying power and they won't stay the course. there are striking similarities here and i suspect that if i am right in the suggestion there is a continuing analogy between what's going on now and what was going on with the british empire. i would suspect as great power rivals begin to challenge the u.s. we will see less and less emphasis on the scale of wars is much bigger things begin to occupy the demands of the powers.
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that is my idea of where these fit into the big story in what might happen next. >> how would taking on the trojan war that into this landscape? >> a classics professor i have not given this much thought. the poems are composing the time of what appears to be endemic reading at a time when state-level organizations of governments are extremely weak to the point where you read the iliad and the whole point of the thing is the leader of the greek. he can't get anybody to do what he says. the classic failed state who gets into this big tiff over a girl and they have a big fight. he goes and sulks in the greek army suffers these disastrous defeats.
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i guess i would say this. in some ways it's a good example of the kind of endemic violence to get from nonstate societies. odysseus has been off for 20 years and he comes back home. he gets home and discovers all of these guys are actors wife. his wife is virtuous but the whole thing is getting way out of hand. the obvious solution is to kill everyone. this is what he does. he kills everyone but then people say that it's say that it's great as far as it goes however all of these guys have families and these are important powerful families that will come back and kill everyone on our side now. he resolves the problem by having the goddess of phenia miraculously appear on the scene and sprinkle pixie dust and
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everyone says says of the what the heck you just killed all of her relatives but we are fine with that and we will make these go on. of course you can do that when you're an active poet. in the world world you don't have a phenia showing up and in a row world without the goddess the only way to get this is by having the government tell people you can't do this. we are not going to allow feuding to go on so yeah that's where the whole story fits in. >> as a general thesis i think what you say makes a lot of sense but going back to world war i and mean if you think what world war i resulted in probably the rise of communism and the rise of nazism indirectly
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causing the holocaust, causing mass destruction of german cities, japanese cities etc., i mean in reality how can you say that was anything but a totally unmitigated disaster? >> yeah. if you look at world war i and look after the 1914 to 1918 period is really hard to find much to cheer about during world war i. it's a really good question because something i find myself thinking about a lot while i was writing the book because world war one is by no means the only case of this. i kept emphasizing when i was talking and i also do it through the book that this is an argument that operates on the long-term. that's a really important point to keep making because often i think what happens in history is the microscale day-to-day things that go on leads to wildly
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different macroscale big scale outcomes. world war i if you look at what people were saying about world war i right after the war in 1919 in 1920 on the allied side overwhelmingly people are saying this was great. this was the best we ever had. mom and the events being built all over britain and at that point is not monuments in honor of the war but monuments in glory in celebration. it's really only the end of the 20s and beginning of the 30s that people really turn and say oh, god this is a tragedy. everything about this is negative and that is when it becomes an armistice day and becomes this festival of national mourning in many countries. the view changes and this is what i found generally with my whole story. how things look depends on the time scale.
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this is pretty grim but if you back up and look at it as ground one the larger struggle that takes you from 1914 to 1989 what you see then is the open round of the conflict you get is the british come to pieces and a stronger global -- blue places it. it's superficially in some ways looks like the levalized world that the british were overseeing so the perspective you take makes a huge amount of difference. i would say world war i does make some sense in the first part of this great shift in wealth and power. looking at it just on its own terms you're absolutely right. how can you find much positive in that? the lady here. >> i heard to say the next 40 years are the most dangerous in history.
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what kind of government here or elsewhere would help avert historical repetition? >> great question. one of my claims in the book is if the stories i'm telling are correct it looks like the next 40 years will be the most dangerous in history and rerunning the structural elements leading to world war i would use much more to stroke of weapons. what kinds of governments could help us avoid the worst-case scenario? i guess in one way the answer is really good ones. that's not a terribly helpful answer. one of the reasons i wrote the book was in the hope of understanding history better and give people the little bit more perspective on the events we are moving into and it would make me happy if this book were written by people who were involved in the decision make him but also
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democratic countries and larger sections of people as well to help us understand these issues as we make decisions on who to lead us. often politicians and i guess this will not shock anybody politicians offer simplistic solutions to problems. i think a lot of people today are suggesting that the u.s. is to withdraw from the world. we have gotten into these horrible messy situations in the middle east and central asia. the thing to do is to pull back. if my interpretation of the history is right or this is the worst possible thing to do right now. further down the road that might turn into exactly the thing as the world continues changing. i think what we need are governments that are very aware of dangers that they face when they start to talk about using force to settle their problems but also governments are very
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aware of how the problems look from the other side. i had interesting conversations in the last year or two with people connected to the military world both in u.s. and china. it's very interesting the similarities and differences that the two groups see and how they think things could go terribly long in the pacific -- wrong in the pacific. on the u.s. side of the fence they think the real dangers china might get pushy and aggressive and do something like seized the islands in the hopes that the u.s. will respond we we and american allies start peeling off and joining with china. the chinese people think that's an insane idea how anyone would think they would do something like that. what they see as a problem is the last 60 years multiple times the u.s. has implied the threat of nuclear war against china. they fought a long war in vietnam. as they see at the u.s. is the
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one who constantly turns to military force to solve its problems. they worry as chinese wealth and influence grows they see and inevitable process attaching themselves to china and they worry about the u.s. overreacting and trying to use force leading to an escalation. it's been very interesting. reassuring the people that both sides see the same underlying process going on in understanding what it is but worrying that they could potentially misunderstand each other's motives and repeat them. a question right in the back. >> lets think about this underlying presence of the thesis is that war is a response to a much bigger conflict inherent in human interactions. and it has become very efficient response as we move further across times.
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states organize and communities organized and highly efficient ways. could you also say that as we moved into perhaps,
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the second thing is that you could argue that when i mentioned earlier this was about barack obama's greatest -- not dod but the department of the treasury and thirdly there is the question that in many ways what one could argue is that the next conflict series of complex would not have anything to do with it. in other words if you talk to some people that are seriously concerned about the cyber issue at all happened without a single shot being fired. either the u.s. for example or china want to come to an agreement on this because they can't afford to come to an agreement on it at this stage and they see the potential here that the real conflict will be in the cyber sphere. i guess my question to you is war necessarily the ultimate
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evolution of this evolutionary conflicts that you have involved yourself in and is the real threat, and i would add is a caveat as a check against this a nuclear conflict has become so abominable that people won't use it anyway. in other words putin is able to do this to some degree because everyone realizes the nt is we are not going to go to war and ukraine. it's not in their national interest to go there and do that so i guess i'm asking you is war necessarily becoming obsolete as the final nexis? >> yeah this is what i suggested is one that claims in my book is that war and the census putting ourselves out of business because we have become so good at it. it back in 1983 the u.s. department of defense decided as they periodically did to try to model what happened if we get into a nuclear war with the soviets. they bring in some consultants.
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they say we want you to use the prevailing doctrine of the u.s. military which is a war will begin with counterstrikes which means you fire your own nuclear missiles only the nuclear force it, not at the cities. you are not trying to kill people. they run there were game come back a few days later looking a little bit sheepish. the guys at the department of defense say how did the game go? they say well nobody was able to hold the line at counterfocounterfo rce strikes, no one on either side. within the first week they have 500 million dead and the second week we have another five and a million dead. the weeks that follow we have no way to predict how many more hundreds of millions will die. the department of defense is horrified by this so they obvious solution is to fire the consultants and get another set. they do this and they rerun the game and come to almost exactly the same conclusion. it's completely clear by the
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80s that we cannot let this happen. so this is very much why i suggest, this is the driving force about why worse putting itself out of business. the payoff for major war has declined to zero, two negative levels. the other part of your question was about the nonstate actors the multinational organizations below the government level ngos and all the groups that are finding ways to resolve disputes without violence coming into it. you're absolutely right to emphasize the contribution they made and any say this in the u.s.. many of the things the united nations has done since world war ii have been extraordinary in reducing the level of complex but on the other hand the one place the u.n. has systematically failed is that the level of security points. they are not as day. they don't have the leviathan power to make people do what they wanted that's the big
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problem. it's still ultimately comes down to that. the european union i talk about that quite a bit in my book in the last chapter. when i was growing up in the 1960s and 70's i thought the e.u. or whatever it was we called it back then i thought this was the most boring thing to ever be created in the instant any one of those guys from brussels came on tv up it will go instantly. what i didn't see then was that was the point. the point of the european union was to make europe dull. old people don't invade each other. if you aren't committees all day nobody's in charge. that's the extraordinary thing. in last 50 years or so hundreds of millions of people have come together in a larger safer richer society without anybody using force which i don't think there's ever been anything like this in the history of the world.
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the reason i look at the e.u. so much in my book is that this seems to me to be the closest thing we have got to an exception to this depressing law that i propose that only force is strong enough. it isn't really an exception to this. of course it's formed entirely in the context of of the cold war under the shadow of the u.s. nuclear program. i think the reason the european union has been able to become so peaceful and no capital punishment, it's almost completely renounced war as a tool of policy. the reason they can do that as they have the united states there to do the nasty bloody stuff which allows europeans to say america is a rogue nation out of control and killing everybody. it seems to me that the u.s. allows europe to be so peaceful
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because the u.s. is acting as -- europe could not have created this without the american global guard but on the other hand the u.s. couldn't be the global cop without your being so peaceful. if europe european government is behaving like it in the 1910s we would have competed with arms races. so the two need each other and i guess i would would say a logical commendation of the story i tell in this book if it gets to a happy ending but do we get to a point where organizations like the e.u. no longer need organizations like the u.s. to be the global cop. in other words it's a self-regulating world of some kind and i do talk a little bit at the end of the book of possible ways we might get there. but i think this puts a finger on the core issues here. >> you see a parallel between the fall of the roman empire in
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the three hundreds and four hundreds where the local italians of romans joined the legions and the germans fight and this country where 98% of everybody in this country, everybody's child and grandchild are too special to going to the military. in the next 50 years do you see any parallels? nobody wants to go into the military and assuming we are not going to have a nuclear war if you don't know how to fight i think you have great consequences. i clearly think putin has figured that out in retrenching from afghanistan and pulling out he's a pretty sharp guy. do you know how far he can push at? do you see as a problem with the disconnect in this country with the military in the next 50 years? how does that apply? >> a great question. it's really tempting because there are are similarities
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between the roman empire and the current world situation and it's really tempting to look at the similarities and emphasize them but what makes me hesitant a little bit is that it's tempting for us in the 20 tens but it seems have been tempting for pretty much any generation of scholars. everybody has been looking at the roman empire saying oh god that's us in the british empire was doing this. i tend to be cautious about doing this but i think you're quite right to say there are some similarities and some of the developments. although i think there's also other stuff going on too. one of the great strengths of america's strategic, geostrategic position in the world has always been cut off from the troublesome parts of the world by canada mexico and fish on either side which cuts us off from some of the problems that people in europe and asia have to deal with.
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over and over again the u.s. when they get into a war will rapidly ramp up a big citizen armies and sometimes it's been slow at getting this done but this huge army can go off and almost always when there were were sprayed into wars over and over again but they have done is they cut the u.s. military forces down to the bone the absolute smallest they can get away with and in a way they think this is courting all kinds of risks and tempting other people to try something but in another way there some sense that on the whole our strategic position doesn't call for massive farms like germany and france have to have a big army. if you try to obtain big armies in peacetime that's a quick way to go bankrupt. i think what you say about the parallels of the roman empire at think you are right to see parallels there but on the other hand there is a lot of other stuff going on as well. >> is fair and equitable risk for people fighting?
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you are from harvard and you are a fluent and in texas there's a big disparity. that is what is happening with -- [inaudible] >> yeah. again this is long-term. it goes back a long way. maybe the debates during the civil war when you could hire somebody else to go for you which created tremendous conflicts but again i've seen a lot of arguments on different sides of this tissue. one of the things people sometimes say is that it's broadly true but it's much more true for the enlisted soldiers and the officer class which disproportionately draws from
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the upper reaches the middle class. there's kind of a lot of variation but one of my comments by david canady who has gotten active in the debate he also thinks it's a real problem to have worby increasingly professionalized so only a tiny military group has any understanding of what war is about. i actually think the analogy a lot of people have chosen with the hung dynasty in china which went must -- much further than that roman empire and like what some people say in the u.s. today. they rotate the army and the political profession. in china the army is entirely staffed with mercenaries. that really did have some bad effects in china 2000 years ago. i think it's a really complicated issue and as you can probably tell from the way i'm
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rambling around is that i haven't thought about it much. >> thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you. thank you very much. >> you can purchase the book at the rest are and we will have a signing. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations]